Fire of the Spirit Chapter 1
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the other characters in the show. They belong to Joss Whedon. I am not gaining any profit from this story.
I'd like to thank my Beta's Gross & Hawklan for all of their help
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Xander watched as Buffy dived at Ethan again, but the black mage was faster having been boosted by his own magic and the demon he was working with. Giles ran at his former friend only to be flung backwards by a magical blast from Ethan. Willow and her new friend Tara were still working on their joint spell, but they needed more time. Making his decision he ran straight at the distracted Ethan and kicked him, with every bit of strength in him, into Buffy's back kick which sent him into a nearby door.
"Xander, I told you to stay out of this," Buffy hissed as she helped Giles to his feet.
"But?" Xander started to protest.
"Just do as you're told!" Buffy shouted as she went to attack the enhanced mage again.
Xander frowned, hating the way his supposed friend treated him. It had been like this ever since the re-opening of the Hellmouth incident. He still hadn't told them what had really happened during that time, how he had taken out the zombie gang which had threatened to blow up the school where Buffy and the others were fighting. He knew if he did tell them; none of them would have believed him, not even Willow. Ever since the fluke, things between them had been terrible. They were still slowly rebuilding their friendship, but he knew it would never be what it used to be before Buffy turned up.
"Xander, look out!" he suddenly heard Giles cry out.
He looked up just in time to see a streaking ball of purple light lunge straight at him. Before he could even think about jumping out of its way, it struck him in the head, sending him flying through a fence. The last thing he saw was Tara and Willow running towards him. Both had looks of fear in their eyes. As unconscious finally took him, he caught a last look of Tara's face before the darkness claimed him.
Giles shook his head as he looked down at the still unconscious form of their friend. He had taken the full force of the magical blast as Ethan deflected it. The mage had finally been defeated by the joint spell as he and Buffy both managed to grab his arms stopping him from casting any defensive spells to counter it, as he had the first time. He shook his head as he walked back into his living room to find Buffy and Willow once again arguing over whether or not Xander should still be helping patrol and dealing with the various bad guys they dealt with on a regular basis.
He himself had stayed out of it, as had Tara and the newly arrived Riley, Buffy's boyfriend. Granted, in his mind, Riley was a better boyfriend for Buffy than Angel had been, but something about the young man made him dislike him. Most likely it had to do with the military outfit he was working with. He didn't trust what they were up to, he felt it could only lead to trouble.
"No Willow, you listen to me, Xander has almost gotten himself killed time and time again. It's time you face facts, he's not cut out for this; he never was!" Buffy shouted rousing Giles from his thoughts.
"And I suppose saving your life was just a fluke then right?" Willow shouted back.
"He wouldn't have made it down into the master's lair without Angel, remember that," Buffy replied.
"And Angel wouldn't have even done that if Xander hadn't made him go. Let's face it Buffy, he was too busy brooding over you to be any help. In fact, all of us were except Xander. He was the only one who didn't just accept it," Willow returned her voice rising.
"Enough both of you!" Giles shouted finally deciding to step in and stop them.
"Giles, you agree with me, right?" Buffy said facing him.
"Yes and no," Giles replied. "Xander is not very strong, I agree with you there. However, he can be trained to fight just as much as the rest of us can. It is also his decision to fight, and no one can take that from him, not even you."
"But Giles, he's gonna get killed," Buffy argued.
"You don't know that. He's taken just as many knocks and bangs as the rest of us and come out fine and Willow is right, you should show a bit more respect for him after all he has done for us," Giles told her.
Buffy frowned and then just turned and left. Riley gave them an apologetic smile and followed after her. Willow shook her head, clearly still upset with her friend and walked back in to check on Xander, leaving Giles alone with the shy quite witch, she had befriended, Tara.
"Sorry, they're not usually like this," he commented as he removed his glasses and polished them.
"I. it's OK, Mr. Giles," Tara replied, smiling slightly.
Buffy stormed away from Giles' place, the frown on her face still in place. Riley had trouble keeping up with his girlfriend. He had never seen her get so mad so fast. He wondered if Buffy's arguments against Xander patrolling with them were based on real facts and not some deeper feeling she had for her friend. He shook his head. The idea was to crazy to even think about. All he had seen from Xander was that he was a clown who could only tell bad jokes. He hadn't seen any sign he was anything more.
"Buffy, you OK?" he asked, trying to break the silence that had descended since they had left.
"Fine," Buffy replied, her voice still full of anger.
Riley sighed and shook his head, wondering how long this bout of anger would last. He decided to just keep quiet and wait and see what happened.
Giles reentered the room where they had put Xander. Willow was next to his bed asleep, obviously worn out from the night's activities. Although things between Xander and Willow were still somewhat strained since the whole Fluke business, he had noted both of them still furiously protected the other whenever they were attacked, either physically or verbally. It was clear to him the deepness of their friendship was still firmly rooted in them. He turned and walked back down the stairs and into the living room where he found Tara had fallen asleep on his settee. Smiling slightly, he turned and walked over to his own armchair, sat down in it and began to read from one of his many books, wondering what tomorrow would bring.
Xander slowly opened his eyes and slowly tried to sit up, but quickly stopped when his head began to pound. He tried to gain his bearings. How had he ended up at Giles place? He recognized the watcher's home, having been here many times before. He heard a faint whisper from somewhere and turned to look around, but saw nothing. He turned the other way to find Willow asleep in a nearby chair. He smiled and was glad she had stayed to see if he was OK. The smile faded as he again heard the faint whisper. It was closer this time and yet he could see nothing. He tried to sit up again, managing it this time. He paused at the edge of the bed still feeling the effects of whatever it was that had hit him. He looked around the room again before standing and walking over to the nearby bathroom. He quickly ran some cold water and splashed it in his face. As he looked up, he could have sworn he saw his eyes glow an eerie green. Shaking his head, believing it to be the after effects of whatever knocked him out cold. He walked down the stairs quietly, so as not to wake his sleeping friend. He was surprised to see Tara passed out on Giles' sofa. He stayed there, watching the sleeping witch for a few minutes until he heard the whisper again. This time he could hear it more clearly, it was telling him to find a mate. He frowned, as the words passed over him, something about it seemed oddly familiar.
"Feeling better, Xander?" He jumped as Giles' voice came from behind him.
"Damn G-man, don't do that," he shot back as he turned to face the former Watcher. "And yeah, I'm feeling better. Mind telling me what hit me?" he asked.
"The spell Willow and Tara were creating was deflected by Ethan and it hit you squarely in the head. There was no chance of you jumping out of its way," Giles informed him.
"I guess that's why my head feels like it's been cracked open like an egg," Xander said, as he tried to ignore the whispering voices he kept hearing.
"Most likely and now, back to bed with you, just in case. It's too late for any of you to go home now, and try not to wake Willow," he cautioned.
"OK Giles," Xander agreed as he turned and made for the stairs, pausing to stare at Tara again as one of the voices grew stronger.